Joseph & his Death — The fear of Joseph’s brothers vs. the forgiveness of Joseph.
Reading 1: Genesis 50
Reading 2: Ephesians 4:31-32
Reading 3: Hebrews 11:22
You may have noticed that our supplemental readings have often taken us to the Hall of Faith chapter of Hebrews, where many giants of faith are honored. Today is no exception. As we reach the end of the book of Genesis, with the death of the last patriarch, we see Joseph’s lifelong walk of faith ending well. For a start, all the top people in Egypt travel with Joseph to bury Jacob in Canaan – what a send-off!
On their return, Joseph’s brothers are afraid that it was only Jacob who was keeping Joseph from inflicting revenge on them; but instead Joseph makes a statement that has been repeated by many wronged believers since then: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” What a testimony to Joseph’s faith! A faith formed through many trials.
And then, years later, Joseph knows his time on this earth is short, and his faith comes through even more strongly when he says “Soon I will die, but God will surely come to help you and lead you out of this land of Egypt. He will bring you back to the land he solemnly promised to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. When God comes to help you and lead you back, you must take my bones with you.”
Consider this for a moment – let’s not simply read it and think “Oh yes, I know that happened.” To brush over the statement in that way would be to miss the strength of Joseph’s faith. The famine that brought them together in Egypt is over, and Joseph is still the chief ruler under Pharaoh. The family (now several generations) are comfortably living in Egypt. It seems that God has brought them to a place where they can be comfortable and thrive. That must be God’s will, right? WRONG! God has already promised, generations earlier, that the land of Canaan will be the one He gives to His chosen people as an inheritance. This promise was written deeply in Joseph’s heart, and he wants to be part of it, even though his life has been lived almost entirely in Egypt. So he asks them to take his bones back when God leads them back to The Land.
The Hebrews Hall of Faith describes it this way: “It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left.”
Apply that same faith to your own life for a moment: how has God been faithful to you even through hardships and injustice? Has God blessed you in a place you don’t really belong? What about God’s promise of a Kingdom without end – are you longing more for that than for the place of comfort you presently enjoy? This world is not our home. We may die here, but Jesus will take us back where we belong, if we have faith in Him.